WATCH: Lib Dems attack “Dementia Tax” with mock estate agent “Theresa May and Co”

The Liberal Democrats have launched a mock estate agent named “Theresa May and Co”, in a scathing attack on Theresa May’s plans on social care, widely referred to as the “Dementia tax”.

It is described as “Westminster’s finest estate agents – dealing exclusively in selling vulnerable elderly people’s homes to pay for the care they desperately need.”

It comes after Liberal Democrats including Ed Davey led a protest outside Conservative HQ against the dementia tax with ‘Theresa May and Co’ placards. Watch it here:

The party has called on Theresa May to come clean on the cap that would set on social care costs under Conservative plans. She deflects any attempt to ascertain where this cap would be set by saying it would be out for “consultation.” So people are none the wiser about what they will be voting for on Thursday.

With a cap of £200,000, someone receiving ten years of care living in an average-priced home in England would face a bill of £173,000 under the dementia tax.

Ed Davey said:

Theresa May wants to force you to sell your house if you need long-term care.

The effects of this cruel and unfair policy will be massive, and the most heartless I have seen in all my years in politics.

Elderly and vulnerable people face losing over half the value of their home to fund this ill-conceived policy, with nine out of ten homes potentially at risk.

This is like a new type of inheritance tax – but one that’s targeted at people of modest means, not the wealthy. The Conservatives want to tax ordinary hardworking families out of their savings and homes if their relative is unfortunate enough to need years of care: it is grotesquely unfair.

Those of us who have shared a Cabinet table with Theresa May got used to her hiding when problems arose, but for her to continue to refuse to tell people how much her dementia tax policy will cost during a General Election is an insult to voters.

There is a week left in this campaign: if Theresa May fails to come clean to the British public, how can she be trusted?

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  • Ruth Bright 3rd Jun '17 - 1:23pm

    Displaying a lack of knowledge about dementia and the proposals.

  • This is an approach that is effective at weakening the Tories, and adding to the sense that they are floundering. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced it directly helps us, and it’s Labour that are reaping the more of the benefits.

  • David Becket 3rd Jun '17 - 1:58pm

    @ Fiona
    You are right. Negative messages should come with a positive outlining our policy. This is not the current approach of our leader and his team. When will they wake up to the fact that this campaign is getting us nowhere, stuck below 10%. The last sentence of Davy’s statement should have been a summary of our policy.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Jun '17 - 2:21pm

    I agree with the criticisms. This sort of thing is doing democracy no good. We need to be honest and say that the issue is if you want it provided by government, then it has to be paid for. It is nasty and wrong to go attacking other parties unless you have clear workable alternatives. We should know that, having been hit by the tuition fees issue.

    Attacks like this are WRONG unless you say clearly what you would do instead to pay for it.

    Democracy is in a MESS in this country because of low-level attacks like this where no link is made between providing services and how you pay for them. Labour was and is wrong for attacking us on tuition fees without acknowledging that there was no alternative we could have put through (apart from reducing costs by massive cuts in universities) because the Tories would not have agreed to higher taxes for it. The Conservatives are wrong to attack Labour and us for proposing tax rises without admitting that without them there will have to be further cuts in health and education.

    As it is, if you have to go into a care home, you already have to pay for it out of your own assets if you have any, and that includes owning a home. So, shouldn’t we oppose that as well on the same lines that such payment is a “dementia tax”? And then let us say what tax rises we would put in place to pay for it instead.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Jun '17 - 2:26pm

    Very interesting comments, the leadership and many in the party , are too negative , against both sides, we keep hearing that we should be less so to Labour, but even the other way it does not work as well as if we offer positive reasons for us to be popular !

    Some are happy to be populist, Corbyn is discovering it works, we shy away from it on our high horse as a party on immigration, but do it on other issues!

    All parties are the same, we are better, we could be far better by being sensible , recognising becoming popular is possible without being populist !

  • Matthew Huntback – Actually this kind of strategy is effective. If you remember the 1902 Education Act, it was a good act but it was extremely unpopular because it angered the Nonconformists. Liberal Party capitalized on this (as well as Free Trade vs Protectionism, and the “methods of barbarism”) to score a landslide victory in 1906. The problem is that, as Fiona said, it would benefit Labour.

  • Ed Shepherd 3rd Jun '17 - 3:21pm

    But haven’t many people been using most their assets, their savings and their income to pay for care already? Social care is incredibly expensive. Staying in residential care has annual costs that are more than most people have ever earned in a year. The money has to come from somewhere. Those annual costs can go on for decades. It is vast sums of money. I have no doubt that it is far more than the three years of tuition fees that many politicians have told us were unaffordable and therefore must be paid for by the recipient. I think we need a more clear, honest and informed debate about social care and how it should be paid for. Because of this surprise, short general election campaign, this vital issue is not being debated thoroughly. I am not entirely sympathetic to those who feel that they are missing out on an inheritance due to money being used to pay for care. That’s the path to saying there should be no or low IHT, either. Expectations of inherited wealth are not good for society. Either higher taxes, some kind of compulsory insurance or payment from the recipient’s assets will be needed to pay for social care. Whichever combination of methods, it will be expensive and drastically reduce the amount that many lucky people expect to inherit.

  • As much as I think this campaigning is helping Labour more than us, it’s definitely doing damage to the Tories. I was just listening to “Any Answers” and if the callers are to be believed, then there are a number of traditional Tory voters who are thinking of withdrawing their support on Thursday. Granted, at least one said they were going to vote UKIP instead, and most of them were Brexiteers so never going to switch to us, but it’s apparent that the Tories are vulnerable on this topic with their traditional support.

    I accept that the self-selecting group that ring up a radio programme to complain aren’t truly representative of the entirety of the traditional Tory voters, and I wouldn’t be surprised if half of those who want to protest the policy end up voting Tory once they get into the quiet of the polling booth, especially if they don’t have a positive alternative representing their concerns.

  • Ed,
    It’s not a guess of being sympathetic, it is a case of understanding why people expect to hand over money. Greed plays a part but also fear. If I can’t leave my children money how will they cope. Parents see their children struggle and console themselves with the thought at least they will get the house. The UK need to offer their citizens hope, which is why the Labour party are doing well. The Tories try to offer the hope to the old folks that they will be OK and sod the rest, just get angry at foreign folks. The problem is both are lying, Labour can’t afford to pay for their pledges if Brexit goes through and neither can the Tories. We live in an era of learning and how the electorate will learn.

  • David Evershed 3rd Jun '17 - 5:08pm

    The Conservative proposals are for wealthy elderly people to pay for their own residential and domicile accomodation, food and care. Health treatment will continue to be paid by the NHS.

    Those with more than £100,000 wealth will be not be expecetd to use their last £100,000 for this pupose, an increase from around the current £25,000 floor.

    The alternative is for taxpayers in general to pay for elderly people’s upkeep so that they can leave more unearned inheritance for their children and/or other relatives.

    By opposing the Conservative proposals the Lib Dems are supporting the transfer of wealth from income tax payers in general to the inheritors of wealthy families.

    Both my mother and mother-in law went into nursing homes costing £50,000 a week in the south of England. Having power of attorney we were able to sell their bunglow / flat to fund the payments and were happy to do so and felt it right and proper. They wanted their savings invested in their home to be used to pay for their upkeep in later life. Quite right.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Jun '17 - 5:31pm


    As much as I think this campaigning is helping Labour more than us, it’s definitely doing damage to the Tories. I was just listening to “Any Answers” and if the callers are to be believed, then there are a number of traditional Tory voters who are thinking of withdrawing their support on Thursday.

    But that’s the problem. If parties get attacked and lose votes for being realistic about dealing with problems, they’ll stop being realistic. Victory will then go to those who are unrealistic, who give the impression that you can provide loads of government services without mentioning how they are going to be paid for, or who plug tax cuts without mentioning how that is going to result in cuts in government services. See what’s happened in the USA with the totally unrealistic Trump winning. And isn’t this also why Leave won in the referendum, because they made unrealistic claims about the EU?

    The reality is that the growth in life span (it has been growing by two and half years every decade) means that there is a HUGE rise in the need for care for the elderly. If we want that provided by government, we have to have ways of paying for it. The Tories were honest about this in their proposals. Should they be punished for being honest? I don’t think so, and by doing so we are pushing the idea that political campaigners should be dishonest.

  • Matthew Huntbach – Actually the level of tax and spending during the four decades after 1945 was very heavy in the Western World. And those were the golden age of capitalism. I actually support a little bigger government. Strong state intervention was at first endorsed by the Liberal Party under Lloyd George with the Yellow Book in 1928 and the 1929 general election.

  • David Evershed 3rd Jun ’17 – 5:08pm………..Both my mother and mother-in law went into nursing homes costing £50,000 a week in the south of England………

    Diane Abbott figures?..or were they the ones waving from the balcony of Buck. House…

  • Pitiful. I know we are desperate, but still.

  • There will always be people who are only too ready to bash the leadership……

  • David Pocock 3rd Jun '17 - 9:51pm

    I have hardly seen a positive lib dem head line this election. I know media are hardly friendly but still, regardless of the benefits of this kind of thing, I read about this policy because there is already a may and co estate agents. So it is more negative headlines really. On top of the rest.

    Why on earth we didnt fight this on the economy is beyond me, Clinton was right. It is the economy stupid. And our position is stronger than the Tories and labour on this. And we do stuff like this.

  • paul barker 3rd Jun '17 - 10:54pm

    6 GB Polls tonight (one more Scottish Poll to come) our vote share ranged from 6% to 9% & averaged 8%, confirming that our decline has stopped.
    The overall picture is as before, we are either facing a Hung Parliament or a small but respectable Tory majority.

  • Philip Rolle 3rd Jun '17 - 11:31pm

    Thank goodness for the above comments. I was beginning to think Lib Dems had taken leave of their senses. Desperate campaigning.

  • Peter Watson 4th Jun '17 - 12:11am

    @Thomas “Actually this kind of strategy is effective.”
    I believe that negative campaigning is only truly effective when there is only one alternative to the negatives highlighted by one party in another, e.g. in a 2-party contest.

    Matthew Huntbach also makes some excellent points about why the unfortunate effectiveness of such negative campaigning is ultimately damaging for all of us.

    As far as the Lib Dem strategy is concerned, this approach seems particularly self-defeating. Having spent the first part of the election campaign focusing on Brexit and giving Labour the space to position itself as an alternative to the Tories in every other policy area, these posters and stunts which simply publicise bad Tory policies are now likely to benefit Labour more than the Lib Dems, especially where Labour and Lib Dem policies are closer than some might like to admit.

  • I believe that Libdem should focus their energy on: promoting their economic policies, which is endorsed by all kinds of business; second, fighting tooth and nail against the snooper charter because our position is simply abolishing it (much more simple than finding an alternative for dementia tax); third, use legalization of cannabis as the main policy in areas dominated by young voters (but, not those dominated by older people).

  • The best strategy is directly comparing our policies to others’ to show how our policies are superior, like comparing the pros and cons between an Iphone and a Samsung Note 4. This can be done now regarding business policies.

  • @Thomas & John: Business isn’t very popular right now! Notice how the Tories aren’t playing their usual cards?

    People want change. If a centre-left party cannot present a programme of change that is both radical and practical, they will keep on opting for self-destructive changes like Brexit.

  • I am in favour of such ‘demonstrations’….All the ‘highfalutin’ talk about getting our policies to the public ISN’T working….
    If such action gets the public’s attention then they will listen to us; at the moment we are being ignored…
    We have to counter the right wing press, whose respect for truth is non-existent…..The old adage about “Hearts and Minds” only following after you’ve grabbed their ‘attention’ is as true today as it ever was…

  • See the Conservatives have called off campaigning. Presumably the rest will follow. Probably NOW sensible to call off this election which very few people wanted placing all resources into the war.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th Jun '17 - 8:59am

    Theakes, Calls for the election to be cancelled are misguided and wrong. If a democratic election did not take place because of these terrible events, then the terrorists would have won. It should also be pointed out that it would not even be possible to cancel this election. Parliament has been dissolved, and there are no MPs. So there could be no Parliamentary vote, which would be the only way an election could ever be cancelled by democratic means.

  • Ian – even in economic policies, we can be radical. If the manifesto include a commitment to push for export and for reducing trade deficit, it will be suddenly DIFFERENT from all other parties. I also prefer some forms of implicit export subsidies if possible. The root cause of our economy’s reliance of debt is our perennial current account deficit. Alongside with export-oriented policies, we can promise to rebuild a strong international and gold reserves (and accuse Labour of selling off our gold at the same time).

  • Ian – such a plan will be effective because most people are not so economically literate and normally believe in mercantilist argument of “export is good, import is bad”. We can take advantage of this.

  • David Pocock 4th Jun '17 - 9:33am

    Well however we shake it out, parties who lead on the economic questions do best. This should be us but it is too late now I fear.

    The fact that the Tories are not talking about the economy is frankly alarming and since brexit started they don’t talk about the deficit. We should fill this void, we should fill every centre ground void.

    The hard core remoaners (I say this as a badge of honour as one myself) will vote lib dem, what reason then to keep thumping the same tub? Bang others and get other voters. People know our stance on brexit now and other than the cannabis reform I do not see other policy cutting through.

    Also why don’t we make more noise on the snoopers charter! Anti brexit attracts some liberals, anti authoritarian attracts all liberal voters.

    I fear we have just put all our eggs in one basket and it is not going to be enough.

  • Andrew McCaig 4th Jun '17 - 9:40am

    The point about both the current and the future Tory manifesto policy on end of life healthcare (because that is what it is! Not “social” care as if it was something optional) is that it is deeply unfair. If one person can only pass on £100k because of ill health, then no-one should be able to pass on more than £100k.. Using inheritance tax to pay for old age healthcare for everyone is the sensible solution. At least we would reverse the Tory increase in the threshold to the ludicrous £1 million per couple.
    Meanwhile people should get off the backs of the leadership at this stage in the campaign. None of the policy suggestions I see here would have made any difference when the media treat it as a two horse race. Spend your time helping in a target seat or getting more votes for us in your area, not playing Cassandra the keyboard warrior…

  • John, your last comment, about taking advantage of people’s economic illiteracy, is patronising.

  • Andrew, this Cassandra echoes your defence of our leadership!

  • David Pocock – I totally agree with the snooper opposition. It must be put at the heart of our manifesto.

    Besides, I dearly want the party to go back to Gladstonian tradition of non-intervention foreign policy. In Canada, Justin Trudeau was successful by promising and committing to disengaging from military activity in Middle East, which is consistent with Gladstonian principles. Such a policy would draw massive support from those who are remain liberals in this country. LibDems must remember the way Asquith and Herbert Gladstone condemned the Allied intervention in Russian Civil War.

    Corbyn talks about ethical foreign policy, but he still never goes as far as Trudeau.

  • David Pocock 4th Jun '17 - 11:44am

    It is a little strange for a liberal to be asking for complete loyalty. Call me Cassandra all you like, I have a greater loyalty to the cause than to personnel.

    I hope we improve our share and I hope people don’t start calling for heads to roll. But I don’t think the party is served by pretending this campaign is anything but what it is.

  • David Pocock – I totally agree with the snooper opposition. It must be put at the heart of our manifesto.

    Besides, I dearly want the party to go back to Gladstonian belief of non-intervention foreign policy. In Canada, Justin Trudeau was successful by promising and committing to disengaging from military activity in Middle East, which is consistent with Gladstonian principles. Such a policy would draw massive support from those who are remain liberals in this country. LibDems must remember the way Asquith condemned the Allied intervention in Russian Civil War.

    Corbyn talks about ethical foreign policy, but he still never goes as far as Trudeau.

  • Ruth Bright 4th Jun '17 - 3:15pm

    Tim Hill – this isn’t an excuse to criticise the leadership. In fact I know at least one article has been submitted to LDV dripping with praise for Tim Farron himself but criticising the “dementia tax” aspect of the campaign.

    As someone who has worked a lot with people dementia I have been really sad at the way we have lowered the tone on this vital issue. The Lib Dem “Theresa May and co” website heavily implies that at the first symptoms of dementia someone’s home will be yanked away from them! Throughout, people with dementia have been presented in a passive and ageist way – pictured throughout the website as tragic figures whose main function is to act as cash cows providing a property bubble inheritance for their middle aged children.

  • Andrew McCaig 4th Jun '17 - 9:14pm

    I am afraid leading on economic policy only works for Parties that have a chance of being the government. Otherwise the media and the electorate just ignore you. It is extremely difficult for us to have an economic policy that does not look like something in between the other two without it being incomprehensible to voters.
    We picked the only issue where we are different from the other two Parties in an understandable way. That was a very reasonable thing to do.. The mistake was going on about “hard Brexit” when neither Labour not the Tories would admit to being in favour of that. “Yes to the Single Market” would have been a better slogan, but I think we did not like that because it was SNP policy….

    However, I do not think that in this election any position on policy would have made a difference to our fortunes, except possibly going back to our previous tuition fee policy… I still think that we may do a bit better on polling day than the current polls suggest, but terrorist attacks make the election dynamic very unpredictable..

    The fact is that this election came too early for us and we needed a couple more years to consolidate our position and get above 15%, at which point people would take us seriously again..

  • David Pocock 5th Jun '17 - 9:12am

    Andrew – I think you make good points, it just seems to me that if you are a centrist voter not to bothered about brexit then the campaign has not really made much noise about giving that person any other reason to consider us.

    You might possibly be right on the economic point, sadly. Still even if it can’t win us a land slide it is something else we are strong on.

    I do wonder at the local election results if the election had not been called, I wonder if that would have been better

  • Andrew McCaig 5th Jun '17 - 10:23am


    I think we were set to do well in Gorton (maybe not win, but get 30% plus), and make substantial gains in the local elections if the election had not been called. Snuffing out our local election recovery in the counties for another 4 years was probably one of the things Theresa considered in her snap decision.

    In this election the fall in our vote from 10-11% back to 2015 levels is mostly the Labour Remainers deserting us as the credibility of Corbyn has grown. In my non-marginal seat some members who joined in April have already gone back to Labour. Many experts have said our manifesto is the most credible economically, but the public prefer the electoral bribes from Labour or the meaningless soundbites from Theresa May. Frankly we would do better to go back to electoral bribes (although it is not doing the Greens any good…). Everything the BBC (and the rest of the media) has done in this election has been to make it into a 2 horse race. As a minor example, Radio 4 wanted to find out how we are doing in the SW so they went to talk to voters in Truro, where we had already fallen to 16% last time, equal with Labour, not St Ives or N Cornwall where they would have found far more Lib Dem voters.

  • David Evershed 5th Jun '17 - 10:26am

    ‘Handout for wealthy inheritors’ would be a better description of the social care proposals than ‘dementia tax’.

    My previous post should of course have read £50,000 per year or £1000 per week NOT £50,000 per week!

  • @ Andrew McCaig
    “If one person can only pass on £100k because of ill health, then no-one should be able to pass on more than £100k.. Using inheritance tax to pay for old age healthcare for everyone is the sensible solution”.

    This approach is correct but I disagree with the details. The way we pool resources for social care should be fair. Setting a cap of £72,000 is fair, but it benefits those with the most assets. A progressive system would use inheritance tax and maybe equalise the amount that doesn’t count towards social care with the inheritance tax threshold and tighten up the rules on trusts and gifts that are used to get round inheritance tax especially by the wealthiest.

    (In 2015-16 £4.7 billion was collected from inheritance tax. In 2013-14 only about 3.4% of all deaths had to pay inheritance tax. According to our figures 1p on income tax raises £6.3 billion.)

  • David Pocock 5th Jun '17 - 4:39pm

    Thanks for the reply Andrew, I guess we always struggle with the air war really, good job the ground game we can do is really good. With a lack of friendly media idk, there is a growing online community really interested in politics, perhaps that is where we should go.

    Shame on the deserters really, I don’t understand that kind of mentality. Why join a party for two months and leave mid campaign. Good luck in your campaign, I hope you get the win.

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